Before Monday night, only one Knick – Randle – was not on a rookie contract, giving the team flexibility. This flexibility is now limited, with commitments to current players likely to occupy most of the ceiling space. Of course, free will isn’t the only way the Knicks add top talent. But the path forward for the Knicks’ growth is less certain than it was before Free Will.
What we know
The Knicks had two late draft picks in the first round. First, they headed to the Charlotte Hornets for a future pick. The other, they moved up to 25th place to take Quentin Grimes, a University of Houston goalie. Grimes is known for his shooting and defense, but like many late-round picks, it’s hard to project his success. It’s worth noting that the Knicks have had some recent success in trading for this draft slot: Last year, the Knicks acquired Immanuel Quickley, a Kentucky guard taken by the Oklahoma City Thunder at 25. It turned out to be one of the Draft thefts.
The Knicks will have to decide if they want to complete the rest of the roster with one of their last season veterans who are unrestricted free agents like Elfrid Payton. Frank Ntilikina, a 2017 Knicks lottery pick, played sparingly. The Knicks haven’t offered Ntilikina a qualifying offer, which likely means he’ll be added to the Knicks’ long list of prospects who haven’t thrived with the franchise.
Rose almost came back because he played well last season. He and Thibodeau have a strong relationship, having been together with three different franchises. In the rare moments the Knicks have played smooth basketball against the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs, Rose led the charge offensively. But Rose probably can’t handle the starting minutes at this point in her career.
Last season, the Knicks led a solid defense until the playoffs, a staple for Thibodeau. But the team was inconsistent on the offensive end, putting too much pressure on Randle to generate offense. This made Rose a wise midseason acquisition last season from Detroit. Fournier and Walker will help in that regard, although Bullock’s departure means the Knicks lose a few shots at the same time. The two new Knicks can help Randle execute the offense and can shoot well enough to give Randle the chance to operate at the post.
The playing deficit, in theory, will also be helped by improving young Knicks players like Quickley, Barrett and last year’s lottery pick Obi Toppin.